When I think about what women want and respond to versus what we see from most advertisers, I am reminded of the Pink Floyd song, “Comfortably Numb.” A line from the song states,
“Your lips move, but I can’t hear
what you are saying.”
I speak with several male marketers who are very proud to tell me how they conduct research and focus groups to study women. A few even have female review boards. It always seems to be a great start, but deeper discussion typically reveals that it seems to be more of a means to justify the advertising campaign than it is a true study of listening and getting to the root of what women want. The sad truth is that most of these male marketers take this “feminine” information and then sit down with several other men to analyze what women want and need in advertising. Few ever think about bringing in professional marketing women to shed light on the proper perspective and to help them figure out what the women want and are saying. And the disconnect begins.
In these economic times, and with advertising media ever-evolving, it is more important than ever to connect with women and to stop spending advertising dollars that are missing the mark. Women want to connect personally and emotionally with a brand and be talked to in a way that says you understand them. I believe these groups of men are like the Pink Floyd song: they watch the female buyers say what they want but are not LISTENING to what they are saying and implementing those needs. Many companies are missing the mark and not growing to their full potential due to this disconnect. Here is a little insight into the ever-changing women demographic–study them, listen to them, and connect with them before it’s too late and your brand is no longer relevant.
One important thing to know is that you must study women first. You have to know who you are talking to before you can hear them, and today there are more layers within the demographic than ever before. For example, mom bloggers are no longer 29-55. The female demographic is no longer broken down by age; rather, it is broken down by categories such as “Working”, “Working at Home”, “Running a Home Based Business”, “Stay at Home Mom”. Holly Buchanan, writer of The Soccer Mom Myth, says that the number one mistake marketers make is assuming that all women think alike.
Just because women may be in the same demographic group does not necessarily mean the similarities continue. She says to remember that just because a wife or daughter may like the idea, it does not mean that all women will. Marketers “really have to do research to find out how groups are different and how they are similar.” It’s important to do the research to find out how groups differ and what their similarities are. From momswhoblog.com speaking of Holly Buchanan’s thoughts on stereotypes.
After studying the demographic, you must listen. It’s time to move away from developing “messaging.” It’s time to start integrating “listening.” The days of shouting messages are over. You will gain her interest and trust in a two-way conversation, not in shouting. Listening to online discussion acts as an ultra sensitive weathervane to hear the unexpected, the unprompted, and to observe entirely new ways in which brands, categories, and unmet needs may be expressed. Women are the primary buying force, making 85 percent of all brand purchases. Women know their demographic, and they also know that advertisers need to focus their marketing dollars towards them.
So, you know the demographic and you are listening to what they are saying. Now, it’s time to connect. Women want a place to interact where it is clear that the space was well thought out for them. Women do not want to be insulted. A good example of how to do this in the wrong way would be Della (Dell) and Motrin. I have to say that Dell quickly made changes to their site based on the immediate responses of women, but they definitely learned a tough lesson about talking to women in the correct way and how crucial it is to understand them fully before you put out something that you think they might like or connect with. Dell had a great idea in putting out a site focused on the female buyer. However, they insulted the Web savvyness of their female buyers with some of the content, and the response of the women’s online community was quick and overwhelming in its efforts to let Dell know that the site was not what they wanted.
Women are online and they are including you in the conversation right now—whether you are participating or not. Forty-two million women in the U.S. are involved in social media weekly, according to the Marketing to Women Conference. It’s time for you to build an online presence with authenticity, solutions, and experts. Build a brand that includes the community and engages them. Men, don’t just market to women. Know the layers within the demographic. Don’t gather a group of men to try to figure out what women want. Instead, ask a woman and then listen to her. Women are on the web gathering information to build trust to make a purchase. In building this trust, you need to engage them. Don’t just talk at them or shout messages. Connect with them, and produce something that will engage women and not insult them.
But keep in mind this requires earnestly listening to them, not just hearing what they say.